Paper making in Ivybridge began in 1787 when William Dunsterville purchased the lease for the Barton of Stowford from the Lukesland Estate. Having previous experience of paper manufacturing at Mill Bay Paper Mill in Plymouth, his prime interest was to establish a paper mill close to the existing corn mill and leat. Paper at this time was made from rags which required a mechanical process to break down the fabrics into the discrete fibres necessary to form paper. Water from the existing leat would turn a water wheel to generate the necessary power for these processes.
By 1814, a second paper mill was established in Ivybridge. Permission was granted to William Pym to build a paper mill on the right bank of the River Erme, by Sir John Rogers, lord of the manor of Ivybridge. Like Stowford, this new mill was sited close to a corn mill, in this instance, the old manorial corn mills. It also relied upon a leat to divert water to operate the machinery, the flow was sufficient for both the paper and corn mills to share the supply. It is unclear whether this Pym’s mill was producing similar quality paper to Stowford Mill but it certainly evolved to be vastly different.